What the heck is a FOB?

What the heck is a FOB?
Mike Lee

Mike Lee, a native of Chicago, graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a degree in Creative Writing. At LMU, Mike developed international and domestic volunteer trips and served as the Volunteer Coordinator for the Student Veterans Organization. Mike’s professional background is in advertising and marketing, and has experience in executing large print and digital campaigns for non-profit and tourism clients. He lives in Los Angeles where he thinks a lot about dogs, bourbon, and the Chicago Bears.

Ever wondered what all these acronyms we throw around mean? Time to learn! Here’s a closer look at our FOB for Operation: Starting Gun.



FOB: Forward Operating Base – We picked up this term from the military and still use it to name the locations we run our field operations out of. On Starting Gun, Home Depot graciously donated a huge portion of their parking lot for us to use as the footprint of our FOB.

ICP: Incident Command Post – While this may just look like an RV, the ICP is the brain of our entire operation. This is where the command staff meet and plan our operational objectives. Some staff stay in the RV to keep watch over our gear and equipment at night. The term ICP is adopted from the ICS – Incident Command System – structure.

Satellite Communications: Thanks to our partners at ViaSat and ITDRC, we’re equipped with high-speed internet. This allows us to push out media in real-time, communicate with HQ, and disseminate information to our teams in the field via Palantir.

Communications Tent: This is where the Palantir, Motorola, and TotalRadio magic happens. For more info on how the Comms Machine works, check this out.  Big shoutout to AmeriCares for donating the Comms and Medical tents to us!

Medical & Mess Tent: After a long day in the field, a hot meal really hits the spot. Also, if a volunteer is ever hurt on the job, they are brought back here for treatment, unless it’s a serious injury, in which case the volunteer is brought directly to the ER.

Heavy Equipment Area: Big jobs call for big equipment. In Moore, a lot of our work orders consist of demolishing houses, which a few Skid-Steers can make easy work of. This area is also used to load up trailers with any other gear the strike teams might need; chainsaws, axes, crowbars, PPE, gasoline, etc.

The Can, the John, the Head: Sometimes, after a long day in the field- actually, not going to explain this one.

Gear Maintenance Station: We might run ourselves into the ground out there, but we are sure to take care of all of our donated gear. Here, we check oil and gasoline in the chainsaws, sharpen blades, and do general maintenance on gear.

Logistics Trailers: If the ICP is the brain, then the logistics trailers are the hearts. From these trailers, our logistics staff distribute proper supplies, gear, and ensure that all of our volunteers are properly accounted for. Plus, these people make sure we get hot food and cold beer, which is nice.

Gear Storage/Loading AreaWe’ve got a lot of gear: chainsaws, axes, hammers, wheelbarrows, crowbars, table saws, tarps, and nails. This is where we lock them up and load them for field work. The loading area is broken down to separate staging areas for each team’s necessities to take out in the field.  They are inventoried, loaded up, dropped back off at the end of the day’s operations, and re-inventoried.

Flag Pole, Debrief Area: Every day, we have a flag detail at the FOB. And at the end of each day, as we socialize and crack a cold one, we run a debrief with all volunteers, breaking down what the team accomplished for the day and any additional information pertinent to the mission.